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Organic recycling program for east Bronx is food for thought

Bronx Times

Add another garbage can to the trash and recycling ones.

The Sanitation Department has rolled out an organic recycling/composting pilot program over the past few weeks in a number of east Bronx nabes.

The agency is focusing on heavily residential areas of Community Board 10 - including parts of Throggs Neck, Country Club, Spencer Estate, Edgewater Park, and Silver Beach - to be one the city’s first areas to take part in recycling food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard waste.

The program is currently voluntary, but if successful, could be expanded boroughwide, said a DSNY spokeswoman, with about a two-year timetable.

So far, local reaction has been mixed, said Community Board 10 chairman John Marano.

He sees both pros and cons with the new pilot program, adding that so does the community.

“We are getting mixed reviews,” he said. “My take is that I think the recycling and composting program is a good thing, but I just don’t like the way it was done.”

Many CB 10 communities, including Co-op City and the Throgs Neck Houses, were left out, he said.

The Board 10 area also seems to be a target by the city for a disproportionate amount of pilot programs, he added.

Board officials were only notified about a week before postcards were mailed to affected residents, he said.

He did credit Sanitation officials with coming to two board meetings in September to explain the program.

Some said that the bins - small brown containers with wheels for the outside and the small lined white boxes for the inside - are adding another step in what is already a cumbersome process for garbage.

Lucy Leon of Throggs Neck said she is angry about having the city government tell her she has to recycle even more.

“I am angry about having to recycle organic waste, and about having another bin to deal with in my small kitchen,” she said. “It is a waste of taxpayer money and of our time. Since it is voluntary, I don’t think Bronxites should participate so that it doesn’t become the law.”

Deanna Sabetta of Spencer Estate took a more positive view of the program. The first organic recycling pick-up in her community was on Saturday, Sept. 28.

“I think people have to get used to it. I know I have to get used to it,” she said. “I can appreciate what they are working towards in terms of the environment, and in the end, we are helping ourselves.”

She noted that people with larger families or small children may have a harder time because it adds steps when people are cooking and preparing food.

“We have regular garbage, cans, plastic, newspapers, and now this is the fourth thing that we are recycling,” she said. “I think people need to get used to it. It may be an inconvenience, but once people get used to it, it will be automatic.”

City Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said in a statement that the program should help the city with its overall recycling goals and reduce reliance on costly out-of-state dumps.

Once the organic waste is collected, it will made into compost that can be used in a variety of ways, he added.

“New York City spent over $85 million dollars in 2012 exporting organics to out-of-state landfills,” he said. “By launching our organics collection program in the Bronx, we will help the City reduce trash disposal costs and create compost - a valuable product that can be used to beautify City parks, community gardens, ball fields, and sold to area landscapers.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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